5 key matchups for Cardinals vs. Buccaneers

It's game day!

Certain matchups will matter more Sunday afternoon with Arizona Cardinals and Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Here are five that matter for the Cardinals if they hope to even their record to 3-3.

Patrick Peterson vs. Mike Evans

This is the marquee matchup — one of the best receivers in the game against arguably the best cornerback in the league. Jameis Winston wasn’t afraid of targeting Peterson last year. But Peterson picked off a pass, although Evans caught six passes for 70 yards. Not all of those came against Peterson.

Peterson has barely been targeted this season and is playing as well as ever. With a target as talented as Evans, it could be a battle.

Justin Bethel vs. Desean Jackson

Jackson has always drawn Peterson in previous matchups, so now it is an even bigger matchup. Now Justin Bethel will have to cover the speedy wideout. He hasn’t been thrilled with his role in Tampa so far, but he is always a threat for a huge play. Bethel has given a couple of those up this year.

Earl Watford vs. Gerald McCoy

Watford is inserted into the starting lineup at right guard, replacing Evan Boehm. His first assignment is one of the best interior linemen in the game. He drew him a year ago in Week 2. McCoy has three tackles in that game and did not get a sack.

This is a matchup the Cardinals need to keep even, or things will get hairy for Carson Palmer, who has been sacked 19 times in five games this season.

Chandler Jones vs. Donovan Smith

Jones has been fantastic this season. He has five sacks in five games and 12 QB hits. Smith has been up and down in his production. According to Pro Football Focus, he has been solid in pass protection and bad in run blocking. With no Markus Golden, Jones’ pressure on Jameis Winston is critical.

Tyrann Mathieu/Deone Bucannon vs. O.J. Howard

Howard doesn’t have big numbers so far, but his catches have been big plays. He has four receptions for 92 yards and a touchdown. Tight ends gave the Cardinals trouble last week, as the Eagles had two touchdown passes to the position. Mathieu and Bucannon have not been great in coverage so far this season, so if that continues the Bucs can make big plays.

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